Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Benefits of a Long Engagement (18 months out)

Recently, J and I have been in a lot of conversations that seem to go like this:

"We're getting married!"
"How wonderful! Congratulations! I knew it was coming! (etc) So when's the date?"
"April 2011"
Silence.  Followed by complete and utter deflation.  "But that's so far awayyyyy."

Well, I suppose it's farther away than next summer, but we want time to appreciate living together before jumping full force into wedding planning.  And we want time to save more money.  Both are eminently reasonable and practical.  Yet both are apparently as boring as watching paint dry, from the reactions we get.

When did sensible timeframes become boring?  Why is it so important to get married as soon as you get engaged?  We've already determined that we want to spend the rest of our lives together, which could stretch into the next 60+ years, so I'm not sure why taking an extra few months before the wedding should matter in the grand scheme of things.  And I'm not sure why people are so upset - yes, upset - when we mention our very practical reasons for waiting. (Side note, I'm not sure why other people get upset at all when we mention anything about our wedding plans.  Stop getting invested in our plans and just come along for the fun, okay?)

So to counter this silly expectation that engagement = wedding-in-the-near-future, here's why a long engagement can be great (18 months out version):
  • I don't feel stressed about planning.  We can go at our own speed without it taking over all our free time.
  • It's a process of discovery and not a rush to make decisions
  • We have time for marriage planning, including pre-marital counseling
  • We can do extensive bargain shopping, including buying used decor from brides, shopping the after holiday sale, and scouring craigslist and Bride$hare type options at our leisure
  • We have time to attempt, fail and try again with DIY projects
  • We have more time to save $$$.  And weddings cost $$$$$$$
  • People don't assume that weddings are our only conversational topic, because we're primarily in a non-planning mode.
  • There's no holy cr*p panic about where to start, so we can better figure out what this whole process means to us.
I don't mean to knock the people who go gung ho into the wedding planning process with a year (or much less) to plan - there are GREAT things about planning on a deadline too.  Too much time can definitely create an situation in which you dither over every idea and don't just get on with decision making. And having a shorter timeframe gets the planning done with and moves you onto marriage instead. But for those of us waiting a bit longer, I just wanted to let everyone know that we're being sensible about the process.  It doesn't mean we're not excited about getting married and it doesn't mean we don't want you to get excited with us.  We just want to savor the process a bit.  Even if the journey's taking 18 months or so.


  1. i agree with everything you just wrote. we got engaged december last year...so that's about 18 months too! my taste has had time to evolve over that time - so when we do decide to actually start designing this wedding, we'll know it is our aesthetic through and through. we were met with the same reaction - "18 months away! That sucks" i figure we get to enjoy this time together - like you said, we have the rest of lives to be married, why not enjoy the engagement a little?

  2. I think long or short engagements are the way to go. This in-between stuff is for the birds :)

  3. We're 19 months out, ourselves... I completely agree about taking advantage of the sales! But even now, we talk about the wedding fairly regularly. :)

  4. We have a 17 month engagement and we're going into month 8. I have no regrets because I actually enjoy planning and think it's fun.
    (Except for the bit about my Mom I posted about today, those times are not fun.)
    I'm not really sure why people get upset. It's a happy occasion, and it's going to happen soon, so what are they squabbling about? It's not their wedding!
    We fortunately didn't get many people who questioned our choice. The ones who did question it haven't planned a wedding!

  5. We are having a long engagement too (engaged Dec 08 to be married Sept 10) and I still feel like time is flying by! The more time you have the better I think. And this is such a great time in a couples life so there's just more time to enjoy it! Just came across your blog and looking forward to following along!

  6. Mo - I think people get upset because they're either disappointed (for some reason, a long engagement isn't squee-worthy?) or because they're confused (because aren't all brides in a mad planning panic?)

    Budhoop - Ha. I completely agree. I'd either like to rush it or savor it.

    Luxe Villiage - We're talking about it less, now that we found the venue. My guess is it will ebb and flow in conversational importance.

    Bowie Bride/Chocolate Lover - I agree, we're enjoying this time together and the process of heading towards marriage. It only happens once (she says, with her fingers most decidedly crossed.)

  7. My fiance and I aren't having a long engagement. We'd been living together for almost a year when we got engaged, and our process will be nine months from one end to the other. The idea of waiting 18 months to be married to him didn't sit right with me at all, but it seems to work for you and lots of other readers, so great. One piece of advice, albeit unsolicited: consider a power of attorney as you guys suss out finances, co-ownership, living together, etc. Not to be crass, but it will give you some of the security of marriage without having to hit the gas. Here's hoping that the chill, easygoing attitude that a long engagements affords you lasts the entire time. :)

  8. Thanks Jessica - I know each couple chooses an engagement timeframe that works for them (it's YOUR timeframe, after all.) And I'm a huge fan of practical/legal/"unromantic" considerations in co-mingling and marriage, so thanks for adding that aspect to the conversation. We don't have a house, but we've been very careful in planning, and protecting, our joint and separate finances.

  9. To play devil's advocate... I was an OBSESSIVE bride. (See: my blog.) I loved planning our wedding, but I'm so glad I didn't spend more than a year of my life -- our lives together -- doing it.

  10. I can see why an obsessive bride would want to plan it all in less than a year... and develop such a great alt-wedding website where WE can escape during the height of OUR obsessiveness/irritation with it all. But at my core, I fall more on the lazy bride side of things, which helps explain the 18 months.


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